Note: This post is part of a series where I reproduce random sources that I find interesting, with minimal annotation and commentary. Punctuation and translation (if given) are done by me unless otherwise stated. Corrections and comments are greatly appreciated.
This is a letter by the mid-Ming literatus and official Gu Qing 顧清 (1460-1528) asking an unnamed friend to lend Gu some books from his collection. I have read other letters that either request or decline book-lending, but this is my first time to see one that takes the form of such a carefully-structured literary composition. As you can see, Gu starts with a long discussion on the “lendability” of books before finally making the actual request. His cunning praise of the friend at the end makes me wonder how any recipient of such a letter could have declined his request. Now the question to me is, did Gu Qing write the letter in this way really to persuade his friend into lending him the books, or is this more of a literary exercise, where Gu is showing off his writing skills?
Source: Gu Qing 顧清, Dongjiang jiacang ji 東江家藏集, Siku quanshu edition, 25.3a-4b.